04/18/2006 11:00PM

Capitano to give Capistrano a shot

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Benoit & Associates
Heavenly Ransom will try the Wilshire at Hollywood Park rather than the Santa Barbara.

ARCADIA, Calif. - The half-siblings Capitano and Heavenly Ransom will appear in stakes on consecutive racing days in the next week, and both have a chance to post an upset.

Sunday, Capitano, 5, is a probable starter in the $250,000 San Juan Capistrano Handicap at about 1 3/4 miles on turf, the feature on the closing day of the Santa Anita meeting.

Wednesday, on the opening day of the Hollywood Park meeting, Heavenly Ransom, Capitano's 4-year-old half-sister, is likely to start in the $100,000 Wilshire Handicap.

Ray Bell trains both Capitano and Heavenly Ransom for owners Vicken and Susan Meguerditchian.

Capitano, a winner of 5 of 22 starts and $398,438, has never run as far as the San Juan distance, but has won twice at 1 1/8 miles on turf, including the Rolling Green Breeders' Cup Handicap at Golden Gate Fields last June. Earlier this year, Capitano won the Turf Paradise Handicap.

The desire to try Capitano in a longer race, the prize money, and a moderate field have made the San Juan an opportunity worth trying, Bell said.

"It looks like a weak field," Bell said. "He always gives the impression that he'll settle real well. That's the key, to relax in the early stages. If he can do that, I think he'll be competitive."

The probable starters include the defending champion, T.H. Approval, as well as Misto Quente, One Off, Quinquin the King, Sort It Out, Totally Platinum, and Wild Buddy. None is a graded stakes winner this year.

Bell considered Heavenly Ransom for Saturday's $200,000 Santa Barbara Handicap at 1 1/4 miles on turf at Santa Anita, but decided to pass to avoid the improving Argentina, who finished second in the Santa Ana Handicap.

The probable starters for the Santa Barbara include Aubonne, Cissy, Eternal Melody, Hallowed Dream, Sharp Lisa, and Theater R.N.

The Wilshire Handicap at a mile on turf will draw a tough field, but Bell prefers the distance of that race to the Santa Barbara.

"I know [Heavenly Ransom] will like a mile," he said.

Chew has night in wild

Trainer Matt Chew survived a night in the mountains above Santa Anita on Monday after falling from his bike during an otherwise routine ride and becoming lost.

Chew, who has a 12-horse stable at Santa Anita, said he took the wrong trail after the spill and was lost for nearly 24 hours before following a stream that led to the Cogswell Dam. When he arrived at the dam, he went to the home of a dam-keeper, where he was able to call his wife, Candy, and tell her that he was fine.

"I got into an area that I wasn't familiar with," he said. "It made a bad situation worse."

Chew came out of the ordeal with only severe scratches on his lower legs from the hike.

After arriving at the Cogswell Dam, Chew was evacuated via helicopter to an area near Monrovia, where a search and rescue team had been set up. When he arrived at the search camp, Chew was met by Candy, who works in the marketing department at Santa Anita, several friends, and the news media. Candy Chew had reported Matt missing on Monday night.

"That was the worst part," Chew said. "I knew I'd be okay, but I knew my wife was going through hell."

Chew, 45, said he spent the night on the side of a mountain, covering himself in dirt to provide insulation from temperatures that he estimated fell to the high 30's.

"I was in my bike shorts and a T-shirt," he said.

At dawn on Tuesday, Chew began climbing in and out of canyons and followed a stream until he arrived at Cogswell Dam.

Chew thought he was in the mountains above Santa Anita, but was actually farther to the east. "I didn't know where I was at," he said.

Chew is well known as a hiker and a mountain bike rider who frequents the vast mountains near Santa Anita.

He was at the barn Wednesday morning after what he called a good night's rest on Tuesday.

"I had a glass of wine and a steak and I was out," he said.

Chew said he will resume mountain bike riding when he has the opportunity.

"I'll take a cell phone, a lighter, and stick to trails that I know," he said.

No comeback for Andujar

Andujar, who won the Grade 2 Milady Handicap last year at Hollywood Park and subsequently was third in two Grade 1 races, the Vanity at Hollywood Park and Go for Wand at Saratoga, has been retired after a failed comeback attempt.

Andujar had not raced since the Go for Wand last July, but had been training at Hollywood Park with trainer Doug O'Neill in anticipation of a return to the races this summer. She was injured, however, and had to be retired, majority owner Paul Reddam said.

"She was a couple of months away from a race," Reddam said. "We were hoping she would come back and be the champion mare we thought she could be."

Reddam said he likely would sell Andujar at auction this fall, "unless someone takes pre-emptive action."

"It's too late for me to breed her commercially, but someone who wanted to breed her for their own purposes might be able to do it," Reddam said.

Andujar, 5, is by Quiet American. She was winless in five starts in France, but won 3 times in 6 starts in this country for trainers O'Neill and Julio Canani. Reddam and co-owner Mark Schlesinger purchased Andujar privately before the Milady.

Stakes candidates get in works

Several horses who are bound for stakes in coming weeks worked on Wednesday.

Red Fort, who was second in the 2005 Inglewood and Charles Whittingham handicaps, worked a half-mile on turf in 50.20 seconds. Trained by Neil Drysdale, Red Fort is a probable starter for the Inglewood Handicap at Hollywood Park on April 29.

Leave Me Alone, the winner of the 2005 Test Stakes at Saratoga, worked six furlongs in 1:12.60, the fastest of 13 recorded works at the distance. Trained by Eric Kruljac, Leave Me Alone is being pointed for the Louisville Breeders' Cup Handicap at Churchill Downs on May 5.

Wanna Runner, the winner of the WinStar Derby at Sunland Park on April 1, worked a half-mile in 48.80 seconds. Trained by Bob Baffert, Wanna Runner starts in the Lone Star Derby on May 13

Brother Derek 'happy'

Brother Derek, the probable favorite for the Kentucky Derby, galloped 1 1/2 miles at Santa Anita on Wednesday. It was his first exercise since working five furlongs on Monday.

"He went out for a nice gallop and is happy," trainer Dan Hendricks said.

Brother Derek will have a workout on Sunday or Monday, depending on weather conditions, Hendricks said.

* Services for longtime owner Marty Nadel will be held Friday at Hillside Memorial Park in Los Angeles, near Culver City. Nadel died Monday at age 71 from complications of pneumonia after battling pancreatic cancer in recent years. He is survived by his wife, Shirley; sons Craig, Wes, and Keith; and five grandchildren.

- additional reporting by Jay Privman